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The Real Scottish Golf Experience

A Great Way to Enjoy Your Scotland Golf Holiday Is to Include Play With Local Scots

Just like you, Scots love to play with anybody who is mad about the game. They delight in visitors’ enjoyment of their courses and are eager to share experiences and “talk the game” with anybody willing to go into the clubhouse after the match for a libation.

The Best Rounds End in the Local Clubhouse, Reviewing the Day with New-Found Friends.

Some of my most memorable experiences are those of playing with Scottish friends. I have met many locals while hanging around the pro shop or putting on the practice green. When I travel with buddies we often enjoy games with local members that we set up by writing ahead to the club secretary. Secretaries are often eager to respond to a short letter inquiring about the possibility of playing with local members. They will put you in touch with members who enjoy making acquaintance and playing a round with visiting Americans.

But Beware, You Won't Play with Local Folks If You're On a Packaged Tour

Tour companies pair you up only with other visitors. They reserve tee times that bunch you onto the course with other visiting groups. You never get the opportunity to play with local folks who are eager to share their courses with keen visitors.

Scotland Golf Course Tain

Scotland Golf Customs and Traditions

If you play with locals it helps to understand that American and Scotland golf are not the same.

I am not taking about the rules that are, in fact, quite similar. But the customs, traditions and habits of play vary between American and Scotland golf in interesting ways. In most cases, there is nothing “right or wrong” about these differences. They are just different. Most visiting Americans are eager to follow the old adage, “When in Scotland, play as the Scots play.” They just want to know how Scots play golf.

The chapter entitled “Play as the Scots Play” in the book, The Independent Golfer's Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland offers an extensive discussion of many of the differences between American and Scottish language and customs on the course. It covers topics like:
  • Types of Competitions
  • Distance Markers on the Scotland golf Course
  • Time of Play
  • Food and Drink on the Scotland Golf Course
  • Food and Drink in the Clubhouse
  • Dress
  • Courtesy
  • Using the Back Tees
  • Using the clubhouse showers and changing facilities

To look at an excerpt from Chapter #3 "When in Scotland, Play as the Scots Play"Click Here

The Independent Golfer's Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

A Typical Misunderstanding

Put yourself in this position. You have called six months ahead and scheduled time for your foursome to play golf at Muirfield, one of Scotland’s premiere British Open courses. When you arrive you are told that you and your three friends will be forced to play as two teams, each team playing one ball, alternate shot. That’s not what you bargained for. This is costing you a lot. Everybody in your group wants to play his own ball, for crying out loud!

The difficulty came from your use of the word “foursome.” In Scotland, everybody understands this to mean four players, two balls, alternate shot. Muirfield restricts visitors to play such a format during much of the time it lets visitors on the golf course. In Scots terminology, you actually wanted to play a “four-ball” match, not a “foursome.” But the Muirfield folks won’t let you. You are scheduled to play a “foursome” and that is what you will play. (NOTE: Such restrictions are not characteristic of most Scotland golf courses. That is another advantage of playing these courses.)

This is a clear example of a very bad situation arising from an honest misunderstanding. If you had known the accepted Scottish terminology, you and your buddies would not have been disappointed when you arrived to play your long-awaited game.

The chapter entitled “Play as the Scots Play” in the book, The Independent Golfer's Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland offers an extensive discussion of many of the differences between American and Scottish language and customs on the course.

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